Friday, August 06, 2010

bend us, Lord

n flies out to houston in three days. she and m will meet m's mom and spend the week there, shopping for the things she'll need to set up house and having a chance to get to know the city. b will join them on wednesday, and i'll fly in late on that saturday. we'll move her into the dorms at rice the next morning, have lunch together on campus, and say goodbye at 1pm.

just like that.

this departure is hitting me differently than when b headed out to nyc. that's a long way away too, and we knew we'd miss her. but in one sense, it felt like life was still more the same than it was different. we could play board games at night. we still had a high schooler. we were still parents.

i know it's an emotional reaction -- perhaps combined with my aging mind -- but it suddenly feels like the last 20 years or so is a blur. i don't remember when my daughters became adult women. i still remember being able to hold them in one arm. i still remember holding them up in the air (roots style) to offer them to God every night when i prayed for them. i remember us teaching them to read and add. it's strange to think that now, they can school us on ancient literature and global justice issues and physiology. it's strange to ponder the kinds of conversations they can have about guys. and it's strange to realize that they can live on their own, so far away, for most of the year.

don't get me wrong. i'm so proud of them and excited about the opportunities that are before them. and in particular, at this time, i'm cherishing these last days with n before she starts a whole new life. i can hardly wait to hear the tales of her first year on her own.

but as with so many things, the cost is upfront -- we only know what we're giving up, not what we'll get back. that reality is feeling more grievous than it has in times past.

lebanese poet khalil gibran once compared parents to bows from which living arrows are launched. the bow does not aim or provide the power; that's the role of the archer. nor does the bow control the flight path of the arrow. its role? to "let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness." his reasoning?

for even as he loves the arrow that flies,
so he loves also the bow that is stable.

true, i know. yet there are tears.

those who sow in tears
shall reap with joyful shouting.
he who goes to and fro weeping,
carrying his bag of seed,
shall indeed come again with a shout of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

psalm 126:5-6


Michelle said...

what a loving daddy you are! it is great to hear such words of pride and affection for your daughters. may God protect them and bless them while they are at college, and my He also bless your marriage and give it new life as it enters another stage.

marguerite said...

beautiful post - you'll always be their parents, though, no matter how old they get!

gr8god said...

michelle: from your mouth to God's ears!

marguerite: yes, we'll always be their parents, though i am finding the evolution of that role to be slightly disconcerting, if predictable. :-)

Mike Karim said...

Barry! Mike Karim, here!

I just heard from the colleague I supervise @ Rice: she just met Naomi! :D

I read your post, and I'm with you: tomorrow, I send off our daughter to Chicago for her "first job": she just graduated last spring from Arizona! *blurrrrrr*